Archive for November, 2008

Jack Wilson, Roster Games and the Hardball Times

It looks like once again, the Tigers are courting the Pirates about Jack Wilson.  I’m not quite sure why the Tigers have such a hard on for this guy.  They looked at him as an option in 2007 when they were in the middle of a playoff race with the Indians and since then, Wilson has only missed a lot of time due to a calf injury.  I know the Tigers have said they’re worried about Ramon Santiago holding up for an entire season, but why go outside when you already have a good field, mediocre hit shortstop.

The Tigers set their 40 man roster last week and they kept a couple of spots open for the Rule 5 Draft.  Wilkin Ramirez, Casper Wells, Alfredo Figaro, Guillermo Moscoso, and Zach Simons all made the cut and were put on the 40 man roster, hence protecting them from the Rule 5 Draft.  Will Rhymes and James Skelton weren’t added so we could see them in a big league uniform if someone is willing to take a flyer on them in the Rule 5.

The next big date is December 1, when teams have to offer arbitration to any free agents in order to be eligible for compensation picks.  This could bring Edgar Renteria back into the fold.  If the Tigers offer him arbitration, he could bite and be back in a Tigers uniform for one more year.

The latest edition of the Hardball Times Annual is now in stock.  I have my usual Business of Baseball year in review column in there but, like in year’s past, this is packed full of solid articles from a lot of the usual suspects.  You can also help out the site by ordering directly from the ACTA page that’s linked.  It’s a few more dollars, but the folks at the Hardball Times get a bigger slice of the pie and it helps keep the site as, in my opinion, the best free baseball content site out there.

Julio Lugo Deal In the Works

Word came out this afternoon that the Tigers were considering sending either Nate Robertson or Dontrelle Willis to the Red Sox for shortstop Julio Lugo.  It’s an interesting move to fill a hole but it definitely comes with some risks.

Lugo is a speed player.  He doesn’t hit for a ton of power and most of his seasons have found him south of the .400 mark as far as slugging.  He does have 184 career steals with 33 coming in 2007.  Of course one big problem is, Lugo is coming off a leg injury (quad) which could tap him of his speed.  If a guy like Lugo loses a step, it’s pretty much the end of the road.

On the other hand, neither Nate Robertson or Dontrelle Willis are locks to make the rotation even though the Tigers have a couple of holes to fill there.  Giving up one, after rough seasons in 2008, might not be that risky if it means we get a new starting shortstop.  It’s also a low risk move because if Lugo doesn’t pan out, option number two is waiting in the wings in Ramon Santiago.

Tigers Shutout For Gold Glove Awards

After consecutive years where Tigers walked away with two gold glove awards, no Tigers won the award in 2008.  No surprise, as the Tigers were below average as a team in defensive efficiency.  Former Tiger first baseman Carlos Pena, often heralded as a slick fielder in his time with Detroit, won his first award this year.

Centerfield was the one positions I had to check because I’ve always thought Curtis Granderson was on par, if not better, then Grady Sizemore.  I was surprised by the numbers for a couple of reasons.  First, Granderson had a pretty mediocre year in the field this past year.  His Revised Zone Rating of .921 put him in the bottom half, although it was better then Torii Hunter’s .889.  So Sizemore not only had better range (.932) then Granderson did this year, but he also made eight more plays outside of his zone.

The other surprise was how good of a year Carlos Gomez had in the field and how he should have probably walked away with an award.  He led all starting centerfielders with 104 plays outside of the zone and he was second to just Adam Jones with a .946 RZR.  What probably hurt him were the eight errors, but I’d rather have a guy chase down 352 balls and misplay eight of them then, like Sizemore, make 309 plays and miss two.

Still, that’s how the Gold Gloves always go.  You can always make an argument for a handful of guys who didn’t win, and put them in place of a few guys who aren’t deserving.

Rafael Furcal, Jeff Larish and the Bad Boys

The Tigers look like they’re going to start near the top in their search for a new shortstop and as reported by Billfer, they’re going to at least talk to Rafael Furcal.  What’s ironic is, the Tigers old shortstop, Edgar Renteria, eventually replaced Furcal in Atlanta when Furcal went to the Dodgers in a three year deal.  Furcal has a ton of upside but he’s had a hard time putting it all together for a full season lately.  He’s topped the 150 game mark just three times in his career but despite that, he had a stretch of seasons where he scored at least 100 runs from 2003 through 2006.

Based on the Tigers budget limits though, I find it unlikely that Furcal would sign.  His price tag is too much and you’d have to think the injuries the last couple of years would prevent the Tigers from going all out to sign him.

If I could pick a favorite minor league player in the Tigers system, it’d be Jeff Larish.  He finally got his taste of the big leagues last year and he might stick in a reserve role next year depending on how the spring shakes out.  He’s a lefty (like me), has a good eye (235 walks versus 329 strikeouts) and can hit for power.  Up until now though, he’s lingered in the bottom half of the top ten prospects list and he’s hoping to make the jump with a good showing in the Arizone Fall League.  More importantly, he’s learning to play third base, which would give him an even better chance of sticking with the Tigers next season.

The diary idea has now gone to the NBA.  My NBA sistersite, Pistonsblog, has started a 1988-89 Pistons Championship diary.  These are the guys who got me hooked on the NBA for a while and if you were in your teens during that time, the read should be nostalgic.

This and That

Jason Beck provided us with a pretty general “state of the Tigers” piece and while there’s nothing earth shattering in here, it’s a great summary of what the team is facing as things head into the Winter Meetings.  The Tigers have holes at shortstop and catcher and they could use some work both in the rotation and in the pen.  I’d say Justin Verlander, Jeremy Bonderman and Armando Galaraga are all locks to make the rotation but after that, it’s a crap shoot.  If you follow the money, Nate Robertson and Dontrelle Willis will be in the mix but I doubt Jim Leyland will make the same mistake he made last year in sticking with those guys for too long.

Vance Wilson is going to test the market. At 35 and two season’s out of the league, my guess is he’s going to end up making backup catcher money somewhere, but he’ll probably be a late signee if he holds out for a major league contract.  I see the Tigers signing him to a minor league deal if they choose to go in that direction but Wilson has a ton to prove.

John Perrotto over at Baseball Prospectus runs down what he things teams will end up doing in the offseason.  His prognosis for the Tigers isn’t all that earth shattering and the only name he mentions is Freddy Garcia.

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